TUBA CITY — Four Warriors scored in double figures as Tuba City beat Hopi, 71-48, in boys high school basketball action Jan. 29.
Tuba City improved to 11-11 overall and 7-3 in the 3A North. Hopi dropped to 14-10 overall and 6-4 in the 3A North.
Daniel O’Connor paced Tuba City with 24 points, Ryan Brown fired in 15 points, Kyle Watson tossed in 13, Ryan Tsingine netted a dozen points, Elliott Hatathlie scored three and Courtney Tsingine and Sandur Manycows added a deuce each.
Michael Schjang topped Hopi with 19, Tyler Pete tossed in 14, Lindsey Wise netted a half dozen points, Harry Kisto III chipped in with four, Matt Honanie scored three and Alden Suetopka had a deuce.
Hopi beat Tuba City twice earlier this season, but the Warriors grabbed the lead at the outset of this game and never looked back.
O’Connor and Hatathlie sank layups to give Tuba City a 4-0 edge. Pete put Hopi on the board with a trey, but Brown and O’Connor connected on baskets for an 8-3 Warrior edge.
Pete countered with a trey for the Bruins, but Watson drilled two treys for the Warriors as Tuba City led 14-6.
The Warriors led 18-11 after the first quarter. Watson led Tuba City with six points and O’Connor and Brown tossed in four apiece in the opening period. Pete led Hopi with six points and Schjang added five.
Early in the second stanza, Tuba City had a 6-2 spurt.
O’Connor, Watson and Brown sank baskets as the Warriors grabbed a 27-18 edge.
Hopi then reeled off eight straight points: Honanie sank a layup and Schjang sandwiched two treys around a rebound shot as the Bruins pulled within 27-26 with 3:23 left in the half, but Hopi wouldn’t score the rest of the quarter.
Tuba City responded with eight consecutive points: Courtney Tsingine, Ryan Tsingine, Watson and O’Connor each sank layups to give the Warriors a 35-26 edge at halftime.
Watson netted seven points in the second period to lead Tuba City. Schjang countered with eight markers for Hopi.
O’Connor nailed a trey to start the second half. Pete countered with a trey for Hopi. After O’Connor sank a layup, Schjang fired in a trey and Pete sank two free throws as Hopi pulled within 40-34.
O’Connor put in a rebound shot, but Wise nailed a trey to pull the Bruins within 42-37 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.
Tuba City took control of the game with a nine-point spurt: O’Connor knocked down a rebound shot, Brown hit a free throw, Ryan Tsingine sank a jumper, Brown hit two more shots from the charity stripe and Ryan Tsingine connected on a jumper as Tuba City zoomed ahead 51-37.
After Kisto sank a layup for Hopi, the Warriors closed the third quarter with a rebound shot by Brown and a foul shot by Hatathlie to build a 54-39 cushion.
O’Connor netted nine points during the third quarter. After Schjang started the fourth quarter scoring with a trey, Tuba City scored seven consecutive points: Ryan Tsingine hit a jumper and O’Connor nailed a trey and a short jumper as the Warriors led 61-42 with 3:15 left in the game.
Hopi never got closer than 17 as Tuba City coasted to the victory. O’Connor tossed in seven points in the final quarter to lead the Warriors.
Tuba City Coach Rich Bratt said the Warriors “played pretty damn good.”
“We took them out of their game, and that was our game plan,” he said.
Coach Bratt said Tuba City’s offense was mediocre.
“We shot better then we had been shooting, but we need better screening and we need to know the difference between a good shot and a bad shot,” he said.
Coach Bratt said it was the Warriors defense that was outstanding.
“O’Connor had the best game of his career. He played great defense and he shot well,” he said.
Coach Bratt credited O’Connor and Watson with coming up with several steals to lead the defense.
“But we played good team defense. You don’t play good defense with just one or two players. It takes an entire team,” he said.
Coach Bratt noted that the Hopi players gave up on rebounding early in the third quarter.
“They came to play in the second half, but it didn’t last too long,” he said.
Coach Bratt said he was a bit surprised that the Warriors were able to dominate the backboards against the Bruins. Tuba City out-rebounded Hopi, 37-15—including 19-4 in the second half.
“We have a size advantage, but we’re slower. So, we did a good job on the boards,” he said.
Coach Bratt said beating Hopi after losing to them twice earlier this season has to build the confidence of the Warriors.
“They just destroyed us in the last game. We walked out with our tails between our legs, but it was different tonight,” he said.
Coach Bratt was happy that the Warriors had four players in double figures.
“We lacked that balance most of this season, so I’m glad to see that come around,” he said.
Coach Bratt noted that Winslow upset Greyhills, the Knights had been previously undefeated in conference play. He said this means that anyone can win the 3A
North tournament in mid-February.
“Every night in this league is an adventure,” he said.
Hopi High Coach Mark Hall said the Bruins didn’t do anything well.
“Anytime one of our players got hot, we wouldn’t pass them the ball for two or three possessions,” he said.
“Nothing went well.”
(Stan Bindell, former Observer editor, is journalism and radio teacher at Hopi High School.)